Ok to Host Two Wedding Receptions


Ok, I know you’ve already replied to inquiries about hosting two receptions; one for the ‘not so important’ guests, and one for the ‘important guests.’And it’s a no-no. Here’s my dilemma:

My future SIL is insisting we do a dessert reception at the church right after the wedding, for all invited (300+), along with cutting of the cake, for several hours. Then, the bridal party takes pictures (some are being done before, but ones with bride & groom together are being done after wedding) for 1 – 1 1/2 hrs. THEN, (I know, you’re already rolling your eyes, shaking your head, etc.) he wants to have a reception (dancing, music, dinner) for a select 150 guests.

He’s talked to friends, and church ‘wedding coordinators’ (you and I know they’re not really experts), and been to weddings, where they are doing this and saying it’s ok, so he is sure that it’s ok. He’s paying nothing for the wedding. My husband and I, and our daughter, are pitching in equally for the wedding. I know it’s not okay to do this, that it has the potential to offend a lot of people. My husband and I presented to him & our daughter all the reasons why it’s just not a good idea. She feels like we’re both right; translation, I can see both of your points. He’s VERY persuasive. I’m at my wits end trying to figure out what to say to make him see reason.

My husband and I have talked and my husband is going to try to talk to him; man to man, about it. I’m just wondering if you have any good pointers on where to take it from here. Any input you have would I’m sure be helpful.

Thanks in advance! Sizzlin’ in Seattle


Just a note of clarification: future SIL is future Son-in-law.

Darlene Taylor, PBC
TaylorMade Weddings

Just because everybody’s doing it doesn’t mean it’s right.

So…are you saying these receptions are in the SAME day? Even if your future SIL gets his way, how can he honestly expect [select] wedding guests to attend TWO receptions in the same day totaling 8+ hours? His guests will be grumpy and tired, not to mention he and his bride will be exhausted! And did I understand that pictures AFTER the ceremony will take one and a half hours?? You need to find another photographer. :wacko:

Rule #1: Everyone who gets invited to the wedding gets invited to the reception. If it’s a matter of money, then trim the guest list to a select 150 so everybody gets to go. I would try to find out if there’s a reason behind his thinking….does he have a large church family where some may be offended attending a reception with dancing and drinking? Does he have a large church family that he’s really close to but can’t afford to pay for them all and doesn’t want to hurt their feelings? His first life lesson comes here: you CAN’T please everybody and it sounds to me like he’s trying to do that. People who try to please everybody drive themselves crazy and everyone else around them. Just a thought: I come from a large church family and when one of our members’ daughters got married, not everyone got an invitation. There were no hard feelings. There were no double receptions. Our church hosted a wedding shower for the bride and almost 50 ladies just from the church showed up! So there are ways to include church family in some of the wedding events without having to go to outrageous plans on the wedding day. I don’t think anyone in the church expected the family to throw TWO receptions either.

Bottom line: this is just not good for the wedding guests, the families, or his bride! Not to mention it’s a logistical nightmare! (Of course I’m assuming that the receptions are on the same day) Sounds like he’s not really thinking it through – or seeing the big picture.

So, do you know if there is a method to his madness? Some reason/feeling he has as to why he’s thinking of two receptions? Maybe if you were to find that out, then you’d have something to deal with. If/when you talk to him, you may want to take him out to “neutral” ground – like for a drink or for coffee – so it won’t seem like he’s under attack. Remind him that you are on their side. Ask him to think about all the possible scenarios of doing it this way; ask him to put himself in other’s shoes; ask him to consider his bride and how they’ll BOTH feel when it’s over. They will be exhausted on their wedding night. He and his future wife really should be on the same page here and she should be allowed to express her difference of opinion without feeling torn between her parents and his persuasiveness!!

Let us know what happens!

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Hello Sizzling! I agree with this excellent advice. Well put. Plus, you could (or your husband could) tell him that the biggest reason all wedding guests are invited to the “entire” reception is that the wedding is the gift giving event. So, when we invite a very large group to the wedding and not the “real” reception (or part of it), it is as if we are saying that this group is only good enough to give us gifts, but not good enough to entertain. It is a slap in the face, an insult. How would he feel about being invited to the “B-list” reception? It’s just not nice.

One side note: I realize that some church groups host showers for the couples in the church, knowing that they are not wedding guests. This isn’t polite in other cases and isn’t something I would advise to do. It is, again, saying that this group is good enough to give a gift but not good enough to invite to the wedding. If everyone in the church group is fine with it and it is something they always do, then it is one of those practices we etiquette specialists turn a blind eye to. 😉


Thanks Ladies!

Just so you know, it’s all on the same day that he wants to do this. All your reasons for not doing two receptions have already been said to him, but it’s nice to have your validation of our own thoughts. Also, excellent point about learning to make those difficult decisions in life.

I think our next step is to talk with our daughter privately about how we feel about it; that we’d be embarrassed to host two receptions, and to reiterate the reasons we gave to both of them without his interjection and to get a sense of where she’s at since we know she wasn’t thrilled with the large number of guests already. Then, my husband will approach him separately so that he can be more frank about how we feel it will affect her and us to host two.

I’ll let you know how it goes!
Thanks for being such an accessible and expert resource. It helps!

Sizzlin’in Seattle

Darlene Taylor, PBC
TaylorMade Weddings

Be careful here. Approaching them separately may seem like you’re trying to go around behind his back, ganging up on him, taking sides, or trying to come in between the two of them. You may come off as meddling parents. No offense to you, THEY will need to work out how to handle their differences as a couple. On the other hand, YOU (parents of the bride) are hosting the reception and whoever is hosting the event has the final say as to how the event goes. It’s your finances here. Bottom line.

We’ve already mentioned the logistical nightmare of the whole thing and the rudeness of a B-list. Maybe you could talk to him in dollar signs. Maybe you could say something like – If you want to invite people you care about and can’t afford to do it the right way, think of how you can do it the right way…there is always another way. If you are in a bind with affording a big wedding (and this counts as a BIG wedding), do just a cocktail party reception. If you have to choose between doing something big on a sparse budget or doing something small with a grander budget, choose the latter. You and your guests will both enjoy it more, and it could be more unique and memorable!

Some food for thought…

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

That is great advice! Yes, reminding him of who holds the purse strings and what you are willing to do and not do, may solve this issue. Of course, Bridal Consultant’s approach is perfect.


Thank you Ladies for all your responses.

FYI, his solution to dealing with two receptions was to ask his parents to pay for it. Not really a good solution! Money ultimately wasn’t the real issue; being a good host was.

We finally worked through it, first by talking with our daughter about an alternate solution, our goal in this wasn’t to get her to side with us but rather to see how she felt about our solution w/o his interjection – we didn’t ask for a final response from her at this time. Then she presented it to him, and then we all talked together one last time. The solution we came up with was to have an open church invitation to the ceremony that bent the rules of etiquette a bit by using the same principals of an open church invitation to co-workers, acquaintances, etc. I.e. No formal invitation to the wedding, just verbal or informal invite to the ceremony to witness them exchanging their wedding vows (we talked in detail about how to word it carefully.) This informal invite will be to all those who will be invited to just the ceremony (all 150!) :wacko:

The other guests will receive a formal invitation to both the ceremony and reception. It was a compromise on both sides.
Here’s to crossing our fingers and hoping that it all works out!

Settlin’ down in Seattle 😉

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Dear Settling,

Your signature pretty much covers what is going on here. Unfortunately, this event will still smack of preferential treatment–those good enough and those who are not. It just isn’t polite. But, you don’t have the final say here and I’m sure you would want to do this differently. I’m sorry you weren’t able to change their minds to see how impolite this is.

All the best,